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How to Get a Free Cruise (Almost Guaranteed)

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A good cruise can easily cost north of $300+ per person, sometimes much more.   That’s not even factoring in the travel to get there.

If you have always wanted to go on a cruise or maybe you want to go on another one, did you know that there are a variety of ways to go on one for free?  Yes, it’s possible to get a free cruise, but like anything, there are strings attached in some cases.

In today’s guide, I wanted to talk about the many ways you can take advantage of a free cruise.  It won’t be as easy as clicking a button and getting it, but with a little time and effort on your part, you could have a voucher in your hand in as early as a few weeks.

How to Get a Free Cruise

Timeshare Presentations

As long as you can say no and sit through a high-pressure sales pitch for up to three+ hours in a small meeting room, a timeshare presentation may be right up your alley.

In short, during a timeshare presentation, a sales rep will try to sell you on a vacation package of sorts.  Each company is different, but usually, you’re going to pay a hefty upfront fee, usually in the tune of five figures and then an annual maintenance fee for as long as you own it.  As a member, you can then vacation at certain properties for a duration of time, either during the same week every year or with points, in which you can spend just as you would with cash.  Again, it depends on the timeshare company as they all vary.

Since these timeshare presentations bring in huge profit margins, they are often willing to give you great gifts, such as a free cruise, just for joining.  Yes, you will have to say no 50 times and sit through a high-pressured spiel, but if you can firmly say no and set aside a few hours of your day, this is, by far, the easiest way to snag a free cruise.  I have done it in the past and was able to snag a seven-day vacation of my choice.  It was a tough sales pitch, but remember, no one is forcing you to join.

To find these timeshare presentations, it can be done in a variety of ways.  You can either search for a timeshare presentation near you or you could even check out the major hotel chains as each chain has its own timeshare section per se.  For example, IHG has the Holiday Inn Club Vacations, whereas Hilton has the Hilton Grand Vacations.  Marriott also has the Marriott Vacation Club.  Head to each of these websites to see if there are any deals at the moment.  You can also find them inside the lobby if staying at a property.  While it isn’t always for a free cruise, it could be a travel gift card/cash, in which you can redeem for a cruise.  This is usually the easiest way.

Aside from checking with major hotel chains, you can look for independent timeshare companies.  These companies often operate booths at local events, where you’re asked to give out your personal information.  As a last resort, a quick search can yield some results, too.  In doing this, you often trigger ads based on your search that you can click on for more information.

Take Advantage of Your Credit Card

Chances are you have a variety of bills you need to pay every month.  Instead of paying by check or cash, consider putting these purchases on your credit card and then racking up travel points for every dollar you spend.  As long as you pay off your credit card in full every month, you won’t see any interest, hence, a free cruise if that’s what you want to cash out for.

Let me give you an example…

I use the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card, and for every dollar I spend, I earn 2.62 points since I’m part of the highest Preferred Rewards tier.  Even if you’re not, you can still earn a minimum of 1.5 points for every purchase at all times.

So, let’s say you spend $2,000 a month on everything and you put it on your credit card and pay it off in full every month.  That’s 3,000 points or a $30 value.  In the case of my situation, that’s 5,240 points or $52 in travel value.  Once you earn enough points, you can then transfer these points to pay off anything travel related, including a cruise.  If you wanted to take an $800 cruise, then it would take you no more than 26 months to earn it just for spending money on necessities you’re already earning.  Of course, it can be much faster if you spend more or rise in the ranks.

The Bank of America Travel Rewards card is only one of the many travel cards out there.  The cool thing about these cards is that they offer a hefty sign-up bonus, sometimes in the tune of $500 in rewards just for signing up and spending cash within a certain time period.

To see the best travel credit cards at this moment, NerdWallet and the PointsGuy both have in-depth guides that stay up to date.

Sign up for a Cruise Credit Card

Touching upon the travel credit cards, you can also consider signing up for a specific cruise line credit in case you’re an avid cruiser.  I would only recommend going this route if you find yourself taking at least one cruise a year.

These credit cards often offer a one-time sign-up fee, usually a few hundred dollars just for signing up as well as discounts on the cruise lie while you’re sailing.

For instance, the Carnival World Mastercard offered me a $200 credit (20,000 FunPoints) toward my cruise after my first purchase.  Then, I could earn two times the FunPoints for every dollar spent on the cruise.  Outside of that, I would earn at least 1 FunPoint.  Seeing, one point equals a penny, it would take about 10,000 FunPoints, about $10,000 in spending to earn $100.  It’s not that great and can take you some time to earn your free cruise, but it could be an option if you want the hefty sign-up bonus and/or you want to use your points toward onboard experiences on the Carnival cruises.

Aside from Carnival, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises has a credit card as well.

Again, you’re much better off choosing a travel credit card, but these cruise line credit cards can work in some cases.  Just be sure to do the math to ensure it makes sense for you.

Enter to Win

This one can take a pinch of luck, but you can’t win if you don’t try?  Unlike the lottery, where you have to pay to play, this isn’t the case with most sweepstakes.

To find a free cruise you can win, I recommend two ways.  For one, I highly recommend you check out a post I created in the past titled, 40+ awesome scam-free websites to get free stuff.  All of the websites I list there are 100% legit and offer hundreds, if not thousands of ways to win a variety of freebies, including cruises.

Another popular way is simply by searching Google.  What you’re going to want to do is use a keyword such as “cruise sweepstakes” and then click on the tools bar to make sure you’re only seeing posts that are active as of a week ago.  That way, you know every page you’re looking at is fresh.

Aside from these two strategies, you can refer to the updated cruise sweepstakes list on TheBalanceEveryday or even use the free Sweepstakes Advantage database.  Just be sure to use the keyword “cruise” to see who’s giving away a cruise at the moment.

Try Your Luck at the Cruise Casino

If you’re an avid casino player at sea, then this is one to consider as well.

Like the sweepstakes, you will need some luck, but you will have to spend some cash as well.  Going to the casino to come out ahead is never a good option, but it could be one if you plan on gambling on board anyways.  Many of your cruise casinos will reward you with free drinks, dinners and even a cruise.

To find out if you can qualify for a free cruise, find the casino on board and then ask the casino manager to see how you can join the players club.  Most let you apply on the spot.

Once you sign up, you can then start earning points for every dollar you gamble, in which you can then maybe get rewards in the future.  While I don’t know how much you have to gamble to get great perks, it is possible if you’re a frequent gambler.  If you gamble enough, they will give you a free cruise in hopes you jump right back into the casino to spend some cash.

After you become a casino member and you gamble, be on the look out for direct mail or email offers as this tends to be the most popular option.  In this case, the cruise will let you jump on a future itinerary for free or at a heavily discounted rate.  While it won’t be the best room on board, it gets you on without paying a fee.

Bingo on Board

If you’re not a fan of your traditional slots, blackjack and poker, then you may want to test your luck in the bingo room.

Most cruise lines offer bingo, in which you can win some cash, but usually, on the final nights, they offer a grand prize, usually being a free cruise.

Of course, you will have to win, but if you like this sort of thing, it may be worth checking out.

Final Thoughts

A free cruise is possible, albeit it will take some work or a pinch of luck.

Honestly, if you want the best option, I would start focusing on the travel credit cards and make it a habit to use it for all of the purchases you make monthly.  Just don’t forget to pay it off in full to take full advantage!  Depending on how much you spend, you could be cruising in less than a year if you spend enough.  The second best option would be the timeshares as long as you can find them and of course, say no.

For now, I leave the podium to you.

Am I missing any options?

Do you know of any other ways to get a free cruise?

As always, I’m always open to any suggestions in the comments below.

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Tom Nathaniel

Hi! My name is Tom Nathaniel, and I created LushDollar to help share my honest thoughts on everything money. You won't find gimmicks here. It's the Internet's most honest money site after all. I graduated from Arizona State University, and I have worked in the finance industry since 2006, consulting with multiple Fortune 5000 companies.

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